This is post is in direct response to a comment mailed into the blog and the growing anger in the north county Dublin region at being treated as the rubbish dump for the greater Dublin region.

“Skerries Community Association will hold a Public Meeting on Monday 14th November at 7.30pm in the Rugby Club, on the current proposal by Fingal County Council to build a MONSTER Sewage Treatment plant, it will terminate the Regional Orbital Sewer and build a Marine Outfall for treated effluent in a North County Dublin location. Please see http://www.skerriesca.com for more details

Skerries tourism, Skerries beaches, Skerries fisheries threatened by the outfall pipe into the sea near Skerries and Skerries air quality will also to be destroyed (Skerries is downwind of the proposed sites which lie south west of Skerries).
ACT NOW THIS WILL AFFECT YOU. Attend the meeting for further information.”

I just came across this fantastic Blog site dedicated mostly to an Economic and Financial analysis of the scenarios around Peak Oil and energy depletion. Before you start yawning and pressing buttons, have a look at it.

It’s very practical and gives a lot of sound advice on how to make your family financially ready for a Post Peak oil world. Its filled with gems of predication and wisdom. With some very “real” black and white historical photos of the American Dust Bowl and 19th century industrial America.

The main author, Nicola Foss, who writes under the pseudonym “Stoneleigh” lives on a forty acre farm in Ottowa, Canada. She really does practice what she preach’s. She and her family are pretty much self sufficient in energy, water and food. She has given seminars to many British and Irish institutes, including Feasta, our own Irish resilience “Think Tank”.

I was particularly interested in her article on “How to Build a Lifeboat”. She discusses the best ways to secure your Personal, Family wealth in the face of massive deflation and a possible breakdown of the banking system. I have included a small extract below.

“Stoneleigh

This is the list we have run periodically for dealing with a deflationary scenario. In short):

1. Hold no debt (for most people this means renting)
2. Hold cash and cash equivalents (short term treasuries) under your own control
3. Don’t trust the banking system, deposit insurance or no deposit insurance
4. Sell equities, real estate, most bonds, commodities, collectibles (or short if you can afford to gamble)
5. Gain some control over the necessities of your own existence if you can afford it
6. Be prepared to work with others as that will give you far greater scope for resilience and security
7. If you have done all that and still have spare resources, consider precious metals as an insurance policy
8. Be worth more to your employer than he is paying you
9. Look after your health!”

The main text of the article can be found Here. I would encourage you to read the full article, some of it you may be able to implement in your own lives. Some you may not. The greatest value in lists and action items like these are to provoke thought about how you might prepare your own family and community for financial troubles ahead. Just in case the IMF, ECB and EU, don’t get us out of this financial crises. Here’s hoping.

Noonan Construction Ltd have lodged a planning application for 103 houses across the road from the Allotments site. This is the first phase of a development of over 400 houses and appartments which will run from the back of Hillside to St Micheals House near the Golf Club.
 Noonan Construction Ltd. are a development company based in Dun Laighoire. The Noonan website says that they bought a 17 acre site in Skerries in 2005, and say they are seeking planning permission in 2011.
 
 
The impact to the allotments will be major.
–   They plan to run the main sewerage pipe through the allotments field to get to the sewerage main at Downside. The Downside sewerage main will be under a much greater pressure than previously.
–   They plan to direct all the storm water run off through the allotments by directing down the drainage ditch at the south side of the site. This will then run into the main stream where we get our water. It will result in a High chance of flooding and pollution of the water supply.
–   The houses will be directly across the road from the allotments and will take up the full road frontage of the Golf Links Road.
–   The Coup de Grace is that because the development is of such high density, they have no Class 1 open space, so they are using the allotments as the Class 1 open space. Cynical.
–   There will also be a serious impact on the Skerries Sewerage treatment plant and the capacity of the towns water supply which is already under serious strain with a leakage rate of over 40%.
 
If you want to have a look at the Fingal Co Co website, check out Search for Planning Application. and type  F11A/0309. The planning application went in on 22nd August. Planning objections need to be submitted by Friday 23rd September. No time to lose.
 
 

Sustainable Skerries has just won the Comhar /Tidy Towns National Sustainable Comhar Sustainable Development AwardDevelopment Award for 2011. This is fantastic news for Skerries and a great recognition of all the work and effort which All the members of Sustainable Skerries have put into their various projects over the past three years.

Allotments, Community harvest Group, Water group, Transition Year project and much much more to come.

Support your local Transition Town Group, join Sustainable Skerries and help your community get ready for a Sustainable and Resilient future. Email sustskerries@yahoo.ie for further info! or ring Frank on 087 2266 922.

The skerries allotments, community area got its baptism of fire with the Pig BBQ, which was a great success. The weather turned a little damp in the evening, but that didn’t deter many allotmenteers and their families from coming along for the community event.

  The gang get the pig ready.              Photo: Dierdre  The lads were up at the allotments from early morning getting the fire going and the pig ready for the plate.

The weather was chilly enough for August, but the fire kept everyone warm.

The crowd began to assemble in the afternoon, with everyone bringing along some of their own produce from their own gardens and allotments. Dee and Zee brought some of their very nice mulled elderflower wine.

The conversation was lively and the food fantastic.

The craic went on into the night as many allotmenteers found the boy scout and the girl guide within them. A great way to end the evening, discussing the serious issues around organic composting and weed control. The allotment community area was shown to be a great asset for the allotments. Skerries allotment association will be working with Fingal Co Co in the coming months to develop the community area further.

Many thanks to Deirdre J. for the great photos.

Short notice: We will be holding a barbeque today (Sunday 31 July) up at allotments. Starts at 6pm, come early and help, we will be BBQing a pig over a fire. We can’t gaurantee that the food will be organic, but the pig will be crackling.

Bring your own cutlery and plates with a small contribution to the food, (payable to Glen). Also bring some of your own produce for BBQ consumption.

Frank

The evening of Wednesday 8th June, Sustainable Skerries hosted Eanna ní Lamhna, botanist, educator and broadcaster on RTÉ radio’s Mooney Show, in the Little Theatre.

Eanna gave an extremely interesting talk on Climate Change, Peak Oil, Food and Water supply globally and with specific reference to Skerries. Eanna also related some of her experiences in Africa where the effects of climate change are very immediate and life threatening to tribal peoples who rely on seasonal rains to irrigate crops and trees to supply wood for cooking fuel.

It gave us all a sense that the peoples of the world are all linked by climate change.

We were accepting contributions for Vita a charity sponsored by Eanna, which works for Sustainable development in the Horn of Africa. Eanna has been in contact and has asked us to pass on her appreciation for the very generous donations on the evening.

Éanna with the Chairperson of Skerries Community Association, Jane Landy.

 Sustainable Skerries are pleased to host Éanna Ní Lamhna for an informative talk, and question & answer session on Wednesday 8th June in the Little Theatre. Éanna is a well known environmentalist, author, speaker and RTE radio personality on Derek Mooney’s show – “Mooney goes Wild”. She was also the Chairperson of An Taisce.

Eanna will chat with us on Sustainability issues relevant to Skerries, like: Water, Food supply and Resilience and how these apply to life in Skerries.

Date –         Wednesday 8 June, at 7.30pm

Venue –      Little Theatre, Skerries

This promises to be a memorable evening. All welcome. Donations to “Vita” would be appreciated.

 (Note : “Vita” is a charity building sustainable livelihoods in the Horn of Africa).

The Post Carbon Institute based in California have just published this excellent article on security and resilience in a post carbon world. Although the article mainly discusses the issue from an American perspective, it does hold a lot of gems for us to think about in Skerries. Specifically David Orr’s definition of resilience is one which captures the whole idea in one succinct paragraph.

“Sustainability, in short, must be the domestic and strategic imperative for the twenty-first century. Its chief characteristic is resilience — a concept long familiar to engineers, mathematicians, ecologists, designers, and military planners — which means the capacity of the system to “absorb disturbance; to undergo change and still retain essentially the same function, structure, and feedbacks” (Walker and Salt, 2006, p. 32; Lovins and Lovins, 1983, chapter 13; Lovins, 2002). Resilient systems are characterized by redundancy so that failure of any one component does not cause the entire system to crash. They consist of diverse components that are easily repairable, widely distributed, cheap, locally supplied, durable, and loosely coupled. In Joshua Ramo’s words: “studies of food webs or trade networks, electrical systems and stock markets, find that as they become more densely linked they also become less resilient; networks, after all, propagate and even amplify disturbances” (Ramo, p. 198). In practical terms, resilience is a design strategy that aims to reduce vulnerabilities, often by shortening supply lines, improving redundancy in critical areas, bolstering local capacity, and solving for a deeper pattern of dependence and disability. The less resilient the country, the more military power is needed to protect its far-flung interests and client states — hence the greater the likelihood of wars fought for oil, water, food, and materials. But resilient societies need not send their young to fight and die in far-away battlefields, nor do they need to heat themselves into oblivion.”

One unfortunate example of how important resilience is in maintaining our highly linked global economy is the effect the Japanese earthquake and tsunami has had on the supply chain and distribution networks across the world. Even now months after the tsunami, the tightly linked, Just In Time supply chains have shortages in vital industrial components that go to make everything from specialist batteries to electronic aircraft components. A loosely connected local food supply system, not reliant on external electrical power or oil based fertilisers and pesticides has a much better chance of withstanding a national energy shock such as an oil or gas shortage. So keep growing in your back or front garden or in your allotment. Try as many organic methods as possible. Support local business’ where it makes sense. And if it doesn’t make sense, tell your local business why, is it price, service or quality? Reuse your grey water for watering plants, collect rainwater and improve your water resilience. Get out the bike and cycle down to the shops, it saves you money, is healthier and you get to say hello to your friends and neighbours as your flying along at a sedate 10 mph.

See you up at the allotments.

Frank

 

The Skerries Community Harvest Group got off to a flying start on Saturday morning, at 11am at the Farmers Market by Skerries Mills! The vegetables boxes were all beautifully presented, thanks to our organic farmer, local man Paddy Byrne – all his hard work had paid off! There was a great buzz in the air, members sharing a tea / coffee and eating some of Ger & Debbie’s fabulous homemade scones – a real sense of community being formed. It all started in August 2010 when Paddy Byrne was willing to take the risk when he was approached by Sustainable Skerries to start together our very own Skerries community supported agriculture scheme. It was an exciting prospect. For Paddy it involved extending the breadth and volume of vegetables he grew on his farm and trusting that Sustainable Skerries would find enough members who would be willing to commit to him for a whole season. There was no need to worry. 30 families in Skerries were happy to commit upfront to paying Paddy a monthly fee for a weekly vegetable box and loved the prospect of giving Paddy certainty of his customer base and getting fresh, seasonal, organic vegetables with no food miles in return. May 7th was to be the First Vegetable Box Collection Day!

This all led to a group of volunteers arriving at Paddy’s farm on Friday evening to get instructions about where to pick and what to pack. Paddy patiently guided us in our endeavours! Our job was to fill the blue vegetable boxes donated very kindly by IOFGA ( Irish Organic Farmers & Growers Association) and have them ready for members the following morning. [A special mention to Grace Maher from IOFGA who personally collected our donated boxes and delivered them safely to the farm, thank you Grace for that and all your support to the Skerries Community Harvest Group! ]. We picked beautiful fresh organic spinach, parsley, white and golden turnips, three varieties of lettuce and rhubarb. These were all allocated according to Paddy’s instructions and of course Paddy’s wonderful organic eggs completed the boxes.

Paddys farm is beautifully situated, overlooking Skerries, just down the road from the gates of Ardgillian castle. We could see the Mills where our boxes would be safely delivered to the Farmers Market by Paddy the following morning. Paddy’s family has farmed in Blackhills, Skerries for four generations. In the 80’s Paddy left the farm for economic reasons but never lost his love of farming and that connection to the land. In 2000 Paddy decided to return to farming and felt strongly that organic farming was the best way forward. He started slowly, initially converting one field and trying out a variety of vegetables. As his knowledge deepened he expanded and 11 years later has 15 acres of land which is certifed organic by IOFGA and four polytunnels which are essential to extending the growing season. In 2005 he decided to add chickens to the farm and sell organic eggs at the farm gate. This turned out to be enormously successful and there are now 500 chickens and 70 ducks producing 120 dozen chicken eggs and 16 dozen duck eggs per week. In recent years, Paddy has also planted an orchard of about 60 apple trees and is focused on developing fruit production over the next four years. Paddy hopes to add a significant number of food based preserves, juices and baked goods to the products currently on offer. This ties in with his future plans for a farm shop and seperate kitchen, storage and packaging facilities.

Paddy’s family has farmed in Blackhills, Skerries for four generations. In the 80’s Paddy left the farm for economic reasons but never lost his love of farming and that connection to the land. In 2000 Paddy decided to return to farming and felt strongly that organic farming was the best way forward. He started slowly, initially converting one field and trying out a variety of vegetables. As his knowledge deepened he expanded and 11 years later has 15 acres of land which is certifed organic by IOFGA and four polytunnels which are essential to extending the growing season. In 2005 he decided to add chickens to the farm and sell organic eggs at the farm gate. This turned out to be enormously successful and there are now 500 chickens and 70 ducks producing 120 dozen chicken eggs and 16 dozen duck eggs per week. In recent years, Paddy has also planted an orchard of about 60 apple trees and is focused on developing fruit production over the next four years. Paddy hopes to add a significant number of food based preserves, juices and baked goods to the products currently on offer. This ties in with his future plans for a farm shop and seperate kitchen, storage and packaging facilities.

Text: Rosaleen Mc Menamin & Bronagh Dhuill

Photos: Paddy Mc Menamin